As some of you may know, I like me a good list. However, the “Best albums of…”-lists of every year are usually a little boring as I’ve written about most musical highlights on my blog anyways. So I decided to just put together some of my general highlights of all sorts into one gigantic, boring list that you can skip at your own choosing. They are in no particular order, so don’t get your knickers in a twist if I placed vinegar crisps over friends.
1. Laura Marling ‘Once I was an Eagle’
I’ve heard it a hundred times and more and even saw Laura live for the first time this year and it astounds me that this woman continually manages to claim the first spot of yearly music favourites whenever she released another one of her gorgeous folk-records.
2. “Blue Jasmine”
I am usually not a big Woody Allen-fan, one might think so because I am neurotic but I am not a fumbling, confused old man who is neurotic and therefore might have another view of the world than Allen does. But “Blue Jasmine” is more drama than annoying romantic comedy and also has a wonderful Cate Blanchett in the lead whose character is horrifying, hilarious and sad at the same time. It’s also a movie where pit-stains are in direct proportion to the emotional state of the characters.
3. Michael Jones/Rooster Teeth
One would think that people playing games and riffing along might be boring but not when those riffs are curse-fueled and also include epic rants about fast food-anecdotes and running gags that span over several games. There is an art in a well executed rant and Michael Jones has perfected it, especially since his humor doesn’t rely solely on the volume level of his voice but also on wit and dick-jokes. Nice.
4. White Denim
My favourite modern psychedelic band from Texas is back and their new album is as fresh as its title “Corsicana Lemonade”. I love me some good albums late in the year because usually I think that by July I have heard all the important albums and that nothing of importance will happen in the following months.
5. Vinegar Crisps (or Chips, whatever floats your boat)
I first tried them when I was fourteen and was on holiday in Scotland with my grandparents. I hated them and continued to hate them throughout the years until I slowly, very slowly came around. It reminds me of the time I was addicted to Haribo’s short-lived coffee-gums that were gross (jello-texture and coffee don’t mix very well) but that I guzzled down during my first semester break at uni.
6. Skating Polly
I think this was the year when I finally started to really get into garage-punk-music and Skating Polly helped a bunch with their enthusiastic, skilled and fun “Lost Wonderfuls” and hopefully will spread their friendship, magic and music for years to come.
7. Steve Gunn
A hot tip from one of my beloved blogging-colleagues and boy, this guy is amazing. I usually am not much of a fan of this kind of music but even my mom – who doesn’t like mellow, dreamy guitar-stuff – loved this laid back, flowing river of an album that is one of the most relaxing things you could listen to this year. Boy, do I want to see him live next year.
I never thought I would get into the Podcast game but then I realized that long train-rides and my daily walks to and from home are perfect for the occasional podcast. I discovered “The Podcast History of our World“, “Titanium Physicists” and numerous Guardian-science-podcasts that are fun, interesting and highly addictive.
9. Troy Baker
Let me introduce you to Troy Baker – mystery man. Well, he has a Wikipedia-entry, so he is not that much of a mystery. He voiced “Joel” in “The Last of Us” but also a thousand other characters in cartoons, animes and video games and that alone might not have placed him on this list (although his “Joker” is awesome) but then I saw this alternative ending of “TLOU” and decided that this guy is the charming Prince Charming that charms everyone out of their knickers. SPOILER ALERT!
10. Daniel Norgren
I saw Daniel Norgren live this year and he released a new album (“Buck”) which made it doubly important to add him on this list. This guy is still one of the greatest blues-musicians of today and even though I continuously fail to get an interview with him, I will never ever give up. Also – “Whatever turns you on” is one of my favorite songs of this year.
I got me a playstation and I love it. Especially during winter – when I turn into a bear and only go out to work or spend some time with my friends (a pig, a donkey, a tiger and a rabbit), it’s cool to have something to occupy your mind and scare you shitless (Oh, I get involved in these games).
I started writing letters with my grandpa this year and I really forgot how cool it is to get something else in the mail than official boring (and/or frustrating) documents. If my hands weren’t so used to typing that writing by hand has become quite a chore over several pages, I would probably start writing everyone I know.
13. Jenn Grant
Another addition to my love for great songwriters and this dame has released a beautiful album that is a close second to my top album of this year. I really love that pretty much every song on “The Beautiful Wild” at some point was my favorite song and especially “Michael” was a constant “Ohrwurm” during the last wintery/Christmassy months.
14. Lemon Curd
How cool is lemon curd? It sounds like something really gross because no food should be called “curd” but it’s like spreading fruitgums on your toast – ok, maybe I just like it because it reminds me of lemon drops and it’s really hard to get those in Germany but I have a perverse love for the Curd and I can’t deny it.
15. “Evil Dead”-Remake
I gotta be honest, when it comes to horror movies, I hardly ever really enjoy the trashy b-movies of the yesteryear. I’ve seen them and acknowledge their importance in the canon of horror movies but this year’s “Evil Dead” as well as “Maniac” were pretty nifty re-imaginings of the originals and especially the first had – despite the gritty look and story – some humor to it that was so dark that I obviously enjoyed it. Plus, the look and atmosphere of that movie was gorgeous.
16. “Prince Avalanche”
It’s very easy to dismiss Paul Rudd as a serious actor because he is so charming and awesome and funny but in this slow-paced and calm movie, he – for once – doesn’t really play one of his go-to-characters but is able to portray a slightly obnoxious and sad guy who works on road construction at the end of the world. It’s a quiet movie that has beautiful moments and some hilarious lines undercut with a certain helplessness of the mundane life. Oh, Emily Hirsch is also in it but I don’t think I have to say that he is awesome because he always is.
As with my cartoons and my fairy tales, I love some innocent fun now and then and a cool Shiba Inu full of awe and wonder is totally my thing in the world of memes where a lot of things are nasty, cynical and very much like me.
So far, I only know half a dozen songs by Wishbeard but I love all of them and can’t wait for a full length album, anything really. They are just dark and dirty enough to turn their 80s inspired music into the atmospheric wave-direction but have enough spunk so it’s no depressive fringe-swaying angst-fest in a dark club that looks more like a serial killer’s cellar than a club.
19. Wintersleep Live
It is a weird thing with this band. I listened to their album “Hello Hum” quite a lot but I only really fell in love with them after I’ve seen them live this year because this band truly shines on stage (even if that stage is so hot that you could see every shirt change from dry to soaking wet within minutes). “Weighty Ghost” subsequently became a weird hymn for me to get through some weird/depressing shit during the year and I also feel the need to drag some of my friends to the next show because this experience has to be shared.
How good is hummus? I mean, I wouldn’t eat it with a spoon and it weirdly works only with bread but then it’s the garlicky-chick-pea-y-paste of the gods.
21. Jan Frisch
This young man hasn’t yet released his new album but for a review I got a working print and realised yet again how much I love “Wer nicht brennt”. The album overall is something quite amazing and unique and I hopefully will get to see him live again next year but till then I will loudly sing along when I repeat this song over and over again.
22. Walter Kempowski “Im Block”
I got this book-tip from a friend and whilst my grandpa hates this guy, I was absolutely amazed by the writing style and talent for fragmented story-telling that still manages to get you inside this man’s past. “Im Block” is the story of Kempowski’s imprisonment as an American spy in GDR-Germany in the 40s and 50s. Although this could easily have been a depressing and sad account of a tragic past, the novel is surprisingly funny and its matter-of-fact narration actually helps to get a better image of the life in a prison than any history book I’ve read before.
23. Mozes and the Firstborn
A surprising find amidst so many musical offerings this year, this band has donned one of my favorite songs (“Burn burn burn”), managed to get me really giddy for their live show, has given me a very charming mail-interview AND delivered a beautiful album. That’s what I call a Quattrick.
24. Ryan Andrews
I finally got a book by Andrews and given that he released another beautiful short story this year, I can put him on this list and fawn once again over his work. Usually, I don’t write on every new release of anyone (well, with the exception of Coogans Bluff maybe) but every single one of his stories is such a unique, wonderful and moving work of art that I can’t help but yell it out on the rooftops: This guy is one of the comic-greats!
My favourite tv-show this year. If this year’s “Mad Men” would have been as good as last year’s, it would have been a tough pick but this way, I can confidentially praise one of the boldest drama series in a long time. The protagonist is unlikable even though she tries to do good, there are no big-time adventures, no slapstick, no punchlines, no meth-labs or historically accurate costumes and settings, just amazingly subtle writing, a superb cast and a show that reflects a lot of the viewer’s struggles with a “normal” life in contrast to the shiny and dangerous world of tv-land. Being alone, being unfulfilled, being helpless, invisible, being rejected, betrayed and constantly feeling as if the universe somehow owes you a little more than what you have…and at the same time not living in a puddle of self-loathing and depression – that’s something you hardly see. And given that the show was cancelled after its second season, we can mourn the early ending but also celebrate that it goes out on a very high note and therefore leaves all fans with a solid run of two perfect seasons.
26. “Bob’s Burgers”
I really thought that I would hate this show because initially I didn’t like the animation very much. But then I gave it a try because the always lovely Kristen Schaal voices “Louise” and I found out that this show is one of the very few family sitcoms where every single character is funny, relatable and likes each other. Arguments feel real because they are about small things, the family has money issues and even though I first got drawn to the rebellious “Louise” (oh, she is evil but lovely at the same time!) and later realized what a gem “Tina” is with some of the greatest lines in the whole show, I find the always optimistic “Gene” more loveable with every episode. It’s in a way a nice mirror to “American Dad” which is pretty amazing but also cynical and mean-spirited (which I love about it) but still funny.
Who would have thought that my 29th birthday would be celebrated with purchasing a piece of clothing only teenagers are allowed to wear? But oh boy, those stretchy skinnies are so comfortable and don’t remind too much of mom jeans that I had to give in and forfeit zippers and pockets to feel like a 70s punk rocker.
28. “Gravity Falls”
This is one of the rare cartoons that simply have to continue because this mystery cartoon has a lot more to offer, it’s beautifully animated, very funny, very innocent and very clever. It’s the perfect kid’s cartoon to fawn over for everyone who didn’t get on the Bronie-train. Plus, it reminds me of “Eerie Indiana”, so obviously, I love it. Plus, plus, Kristen Schaal voices “Mabel” – she’s my new cartoon-heroine!
29. Panda Overalls
Will I twerk in these panda overalls and put it on vine? No, not at all. But I do spend those kind of weekends when I don‘t leave my flat in these comfy, cuddly overalls that feel like a teddy-bear-hug. And I love it.
30. New friends, old friends, middle-aged friends
I am not the most social of all people, I prefer sticking with a few people instead of trying to make friends with every single person I get to know. But even a grinch like me manages to make online friends, working friends, friends of friends-friends and can even rejoice in a friendship long lost. Plus, I pretty much stayed in touch with all old friends even though most of them don’t live in Berlin. I call that a success and proof that I am still not cynical enough to scare everyone away. Well…next year, maybe.